It’s happening more and more every day in our country. Civil rights groups, atheists, and others gain ground in their fight to keep faith and its free expression out of the public eye. But their mission to “protect the rights” of all citizens is essentially an effort to silence many who follow Christ. Sometimes believers fearfully yield to the pressure. And sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we take a stand for Jesus.
Recently, one high school cheerleader took a stand, spoke out loud, and stood her ground for her faith.
Oneida High School in Oneida, Tennessee has been opening their Friday night football games with prayer over the PA system since 1930. But that changed this month. The local School District – like many other public institutions in America – had received complaints from the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. So they made the decision to replace the official opening prayer with a moment of silence.
That decision created a gap once filled by more than 80 decades of prayer. But the Oneida High cheerleaders, led by Asia Canada, chose to live their faith out loud and step into that gap.
In the first beats of silence, the girls began:
“Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
Immediately, the cheerleaders from the opposing team joined in.
“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Then the players and the coaches also lifted their voices.
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
The fans in the stands did not want to be left out, so they too joined in.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Not one lone voice came through the speakers, but instead a whole stadium of people prayed.
“For Thine is the Kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
A teenage girl encouraged a small group, then that group inspired a crowd. Who might you encourage, who could you inspire, by stepping into the gap, by standing your ground in the fight?
In what ways have you felt pressure from our society to keep quiet about Jesus or hide the expression of your faith? How can you take a stand and in the process encourage others?
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Kathy, thanks for sharing this travesty. As a former educator and coach, as well as FCA sponsor – this has been an issue for quite some time, but the opposition grows because of our cultures “PC” fears and the ACLU is at forefront of the attacks.
In Florida (Orange County – Orlando) team chaplains have been removed and replaced by spiritual counselors.
The Constitution protects atheists, agnostics, non-Christians – that is true, but it also protects the rights of Christians as well. An expression of faith is protected. What must be observed is a government preference or show of partiality, whether Christian or non-Christian. Therefore, the Courts have held student-led, spontaneous religious actions, such as prayer and bible studies are not to be restricted, as long as those actions do not interfere with or appear to receive preferential treatment and tolerance over any other “religious” activity.
Sadly, because of politics and job security, administrations take the position by denying all forms of religious activity, they are observing the intent of the law. They would rather protect their careers by protecting and preserving a purely secular agenda, free from all forms of religious activity. They would rather face the frantic legal battles with the Christian community than the political heat and legal attacks of the likes of the ACLU, whose resources and power seem endless right now.
I applaud the cheerleaders and the players and fans in their community. I am reminded of the bible study I recently did in 1 Peter, which is very relevant. “Why” we take the stand we do matters! Is it for our pride as Christians, or for God’s glory and praise? Did Jesus go to the cross to make a statement of protest or to live out God’s will for His glory? The “why” matters!
As I spoke to many of my students and athletes, there are many who easily follow the crowd in protests, but the true believers are the one(s) who when suffering of persecution begins and their comfort and very life is at risk still stand are the one(s) who seek God’s glory and praise above their own praise and glory that many seek in the protest.
May more students and parents stand ready to give the witness of their genuine hope but do so with respect and gentleness as their testimony, not out of arrogance or pride. People will always gravitate to what is right and good…
Mike, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your experienced insight on this! And thank you for reminding us that our motivation behind taking a stand matters to God. We must constantly check our hearts. We should also know what the law says and what our rights are, because you’re right, sometimes all expressions of faith are blocked because of fear or ignorance of the law. Thanks again!